Samsung Electronics on Wednesday officially announced a trio of wearable offerings, including a pair of wireless earbuds in the form of the Gear IconX (2018). Just like the name suggests, the company's newly announced offering is a direct successor to the original Gear IconX earbuds aimed at outdoorsy people and other consumers who want the luxury of a high-quality sound paired with smart features while not having to deal with any cords.
The new Gear IconX headphones are visually similar to the first product released in 2016, with a single earbud present on the new model being 18.9 x 21.8 x 22.8mm in size and the two coming in a 73.4 x 44.5 x 31.4mm case which is also capable of charging the device. A single earbud weighs only 8g and should be easy to get used to thanks to its ergonomic design, Samsung said, adding that the official Gear IconX (2018) case tips the scales at 54.5g. Each earbud has 4GB of its own internal memory, with the product hence being able to provide users with plenty of space for storing their music. The Gear IconX (2018) earphones come with a sensor with capacitive touch support, in addition to having an accelerometer and an infrared sensor, with the latter one being used for detecting when the device is placed in one's ear or removed from it, then using that information to automatically start or stop playing music, provided that the user wants to enable that particular functionality.
The Gear IconX (2018) earbuds communicate with compatible smartphones using Bluetooth 4.2 and each individual offering is equipped with an 82mAh battery which can provide you with up to six hours of music play time in Standalone mode or five hours of playback while paired to a handset via Bluetooth, Samsung revealed, stating that its offerings also support up to four hours of talk time on a single charge and their 340mAh case always allows consumers to have one extra charge for their earphones wherever they go. The product also supports USB 2.0 and Type-C connectivity, in addition to boasting a 5.8pi dynamic speaker driver and being compatible with virtually all popular audio formats including MP3, WAV, M4A, and AAC thanks to its implementation of the Samsung Scalable Codec and SBC.
Samsung's latest pair of wireless headphones is compatible with virtually all smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat and later versions of the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, so long as they have at least 1.5GB of RAM, with the Gear IconX (2018) having no other officially listed compatibility requirements. Supported Voice Guide languages of the wearable include U.S. English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian, as well as Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. While the device is compatible with non-Samsung smartphones, the wording of the company's announcement indicates that only first-party handsets will be able to transfer music directly to the Gear IconX (2018) and anyone who doesn't own one will have to load music onto the headphones over a PC. Naturally, that doesn't apply to the actual Bluetooth-enabled streaming as you're still able to use the new Gear IconX to listen to music stored on any smartphone which fits the requirements listed above.
Another key feature of the Gear IconX (2018) earbuds is their support for Bixby, Samsung's latest artificial intelligence (AI) service which debuted alongside the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus earlier this year. Provided that you have a Bixby-enabled smartphone, you'll be able to press and hold one earbud in order to issue voice commands to Bixby or ask it questions, with the digital companion also being able to control your local playlist or many features of a compatible handset. The device also comes with native support for a range of fitness activities, being able to automatically detect when you're running and tracking your routines, in addition to shipping with Samsung's Running Coach app which can be activated by a single tap and will provide you with real-time audio status updates on your running even if the Gear IconX (2018) isn't connected to a smartphone. If the original Gear IconX headphones are any indication, Samsung is likely to keep improving its recently unveiled product with over-the-air (OTA) system updates in the future.
The Gear IconX (2018) earbuds will be available for purchase in black, gray, and pink color options once they hit the market, though no firm release date for the product has yet been given by Samsung. The Gear Fit2 Pro fitness band that the Korean company also announced earlier today is set to be released in the United States in mid-September and it's understood that the Gear IconX (2018) won't be too far behind it, with Samsung presumably looking to have all three products in stores by this year's holiday season, traditionally the most lucrative period of the year for consumer electronics manufacturers. The original Gear IconX shipped with a price tag of approximately $200, depending on the market, and the next-generation wireless earbuds from Samsung are likely to be part of the same premium product category. All things considered, while the new offering doesn't provide a significant design update over its predecessor, it comes with an improved battery life and a broad range of extra functionalities that should prove to be extremely useful to a large demographic, though it remains to be seen how the new Gear IconX — which Samsung is also referring to as the "Gear Icon X" — will perform considering its likely high price tag.
Apart from the Gear IconX (2018) and Gear Fit2 Pro, the tech giant also unveiled the Gear Sport fitness-oriented smartwatch earlier today, with all three devices being advertised as compatible with the Galaxy Note 8, the most powerful Android flagship from Samsung to date which is set to be released on September 15. Much like the upcoming phablet, all three of the newly announced wearables are expected to be offered for hands-on sessions at IFA, the next major industry trade show which is officially starting in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, September 1.